Create Your Great

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If there's one thing I learned in 2017, it is that nothing just magically comes to you as you build a new business or venture.  I probably learned three dozen great lessons in 2017, but this one just happens to be the most powerful and most obvious.  When building or creating something new, we have to work hard every single step of the way.  There's no such thing as clients and partners and branding and marketing that just 'happens' or appears for you. 

We need to work for it.

This is a pretty obvious statement, I know.  Of course we need to work for it.  We should all know this.  The problem, however, is that sometimes we have those days or weeks where we feel like we've delivered on 3 or 5 or 10 great things, and then we sit down and say to ourselves, "Ok, where is the reward for all this great work we did, what's the payoff?".   And then alas, many of those days or weeks, there is none.  Nothing.  No payoff, no reward, no return. 

And we realize, again, that guess what, we need to keep working.  And working.  And working.  Harder, better, and more creatively.

That is actually the part that I love the most.  Learning to work better.  More effectively.  I don't love waiting as I don't have great patience.  But I do love learning. I love learning that I need to do something differently.  Or better.  I truly do like getting feedback (good or bad). I love flipping on a podcast or a video where I get to listen to and learn from someone who has walked this trail before.  I love meeting people in Boston I can learn from.  When we want to make a difference in the world, when we want to make an impact, not only is it critical that we come from a place of giving.  We also have to come from a place of learning.  Have to.  It's a must.  None of us ever has all the answers, and we never will.   To make an impact, yes, we have to give.  But to create, we also have to learn.

2018 will be just as amazing, if not more so.  We will learn. We will grow.  And we will keep working.  Better and more effectively.  It's what we do.  More importantly, it's what we need to do.

Nothing just happens to us. 

Not to me, not to you, not to anyone.  We need to see our Great.  We need to know our Great.  Then we need to Create Our Great.  One brick at a time.  Thankfully, I have 360 or so more days to lay bricks this year.

What Great Are You Creating in 2018?  Whatever it is, make sure you're working for it.  Every day.

-Scott Stolze, BostonSpeaks Coach and Founder of Teaching 2 Lead

Obtaining the Oratory Skill of Eloquence

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How to develop that special something that separates the great speaker from the good.

Throughout the history of humankind, there have been those who stood apart in the sphere of public discourse. These men and women have been leaders, philosophers, teachers, and visionaries. These great communicators fueled revolutionary actions, reversed long-held public opinions, and strengthened armies with just their words. They are remembered as great orators, renowned for their eloquence and charisma.

Did my description of these public speaking masters inspire you? Wouldn’t you like to have just a little bit of that power to sway hearts and minds?

You can!

Okay, I’m not going to teach you how to move armies. But by learning to speak more eloquently, you will be better equipped to encourage and inspire your team, community members, or friends. And even if your message isn’t revolutionary, you can still change your world one step at a time.

So what is this special something called eloquence? Merriam-Webster defines the term as “discourse marked by force and persuasiveness.” tells us that “Eloquence is powerful, moving, magnificent use of language.”

That seems simple enough, right? We can do magnificent and moving. No problem. Seriously, though, you can learn to be more eloquent.

In this article, I’m going share my four R’s of oratory to get you started.

Ready? Let’s become magnificent users of language.

Four R’s to Elevate Your Oratory

One: Relax

It isn’t just the words you speak that make you eloquent. Non-verbal cues such as gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice all affect your audience’s perception of you and your message.

When you are confident, you inspire others’ confidence in you.

How can you ensure that your body language communicates your confidence?

Forbes contributor Carol Kinsey Goman advises readers to “relax and to focus more on your audience than on yourself -- in order to let your natural, sparkling personality and body language “speak up.””

Two: Rehearse

A public speech or presentation is not the time to try out words or phrases that are new to your vocabulary.

You don’t need to use complicated phrases and terminology to communicate persuasively. In fact, the best speakers choose words that are simple and clearly understood by their audience.

But, if your message requires using complicated phrases -- practice makes perfect. Practice saying key words and phrases from your speech out loud until your delivery is clear and natural sounding.

Three: Rhetorical Devices

In his review of the book, The Elements of Eloquence, Manner of Speaking John Zimmer says that “when used properly” rhetorical devices “can set a speech on fire so that it blazes in the memories of those who heard it long after the speaker has left the stage.”

What are rhetorical devices? They are techniques involving the selection and placement of words in such a way as to add emphasis or convey a particular effect. You probably hear and use rhetorical devices all the time, but may not know their names. For instance, saying you use these devices all the time is an example of hyperbole. And I used alliteration in the title of this article.

If you need some help coming up with a rhetorical device that works for you, The Elements of Eloquence details 39 from which you can choose.

Four: Research

Have you ever listened to a speaker and felt as if their words touched your soul? The greatest orators have the power to stir feeling deep inside their listeners. This effect goes beyond just their words. Their eloquence springs from the rhythm, tone, and conviction of their speech.

To truly understand this effect, you need to experience it. So do a little research. Find the speeches of people who inspire you and study them. From Maya Angelou to Daniel Webster, there are many examples to choose from.

In Conclusion...

I hope I’ve persuaded you that you can speak with eloquence. And, I hope that you’ve been inspired to share your message through public speaking. If you’re in Boston, be sure stop by Boston Speaks and tell me all about it in person. I’m always happy to meet a fellow orator.

Speaking To Be Heard: How To Deliver a Message So People Will Listen

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As a professional speaker, I have spent a lot of time learning how to craft my message, manage my delivery, and find opportunities to speak. Those are all important skills to have if you want to be a public speaker. But being able to talk to your audience is only part of the total package that makes someone an effective communicator. 

Whether you are speaking to a single individual or a packed room, communication requires an exchange of ideas. Unless your message is received, your communication is incomplete.

Think of it this way.

 You can create the most beautiful note and put it in a bottle, then carefully set it out to sea. But until someone finds it on a distant shore, you’ve not successfully communicated. You can leave a voicemail, but it is useless unless the party you called remembers to check their messages.

Does anyone check their voicemail anymore? You might have better luck with the message in the bottle!

Getting People to Listen to Your Message

So how do you ensure that your carefully crafted speech is heard by your audience?

No. The answer isn’t to talk louder. Although, your presentation does matter. I wrote about that issue in a previous article, Are We Clear? How to Converse with Clarity.

What I’m writing about in this article is getting people to not just physically hear your message but to receive your message and actually think about it. That’s communication!

Now, there are lots of situations where you may struggle to be heard. Your listeners may be distracted by competing messages, electronics, or just life in general. You may not have the authority to demand attention. Or, maybe you are new to a group and haven’t established your credibility yet. I’m not going to share tips to deal with those specific situations in this article because that would take a really long time.

But, I am going to share two key methods that you can use in any situation to increase the chances that your audience won’t just hear what you are saying but truly listen.

All right? Let’s get to it!

How to Deliver Your Message so People Will Listen

First, tell a story.

I’ve written and talked about storytelling many times before. That’s because storytelling is an essential tool in every speaker’s toolkit. When you tell a story, people listen.

The human mind processes information by associating it with past experiences and knowledge. When you use parables, stories, or anecdotes to convey information, you are keying into this natural process of categorization. Stories help your audience place your information in their cognitive framework. Storyteller Steve Johnson explains more about this “mixture of art and science” in How your brain maps stories (with video).

To put it in simpler terms, stories help your audience relate to what you are saying. Just like speaking clearly, creating a familiar framework makes it easier for your listeners to move from just hearing to understanding and caring about your words. 

Second, speak responsively.

The best speakers tell their stories responsively. They don’t just tell the same exact tale every time. Instead, they actively observe their audience and modify their words and delivery to generate a shared experience. 

Dr. Hannah Harvey, creator of The Art of Storytelling: From Parents to Professionals DVD series, explains that there are three components to every shared story. First, there is the story itself. Next, there is the speaker. The way he or she tells the story and relates the experience is integral to how that story is received. And finally, there is the audience. Dr. Harvey explains that staying aware of your audience’s response during a live presentation allows you to adjust your pitch, tone, and even content to keep them engaged.

Don’t Just Talk, Communicate!

Successful speakers know that the secret to being heard is connecting with your audience. Using these two methods, bringing together the art and science of communication, you’ll make better connections and be a more effective speaker. Share your story with authenticity and a genuine interest in your audience’s response and you’ll be amazed at the results.

Now I want to ask a favor. After you’ve tried these two methods, come back and leave me a message telling me how it went. I’d love to listen to your success story!

Communicating For Leadership Effectiveness

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These Speaking Skills are a Must for Modern Leaders

Recently as I was browsing through my newsfeed on LinkedIn, a post by Adit Rahim caught my eye. Prompted by his experience at a recent conference, he asked, “Are we effective speakers? Or are people just listening to us because they have no choice?[1] ”

His post made me wonder, too. Are today’s leaders able to communicate effectively? Do today’s leaders effectively convey their ideas, instructions, vision, and concerns to their teams? How many leaders talk at their employees rather than with them?

These are questions every leader should be asking because successful leadership requires guiding others toward the achievement of shared goals.

Effective leadership requires effective communication.

In Business Mentor: Developing Leadership Skills for Better Employee Engagement, Armando Bartolome quotes former Apple CEO Gil Amelio, writing that “if a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn’t even matter.”

A leader’s strength comes from the strength of his or her team and the ability to muster that strength. Yet, a recent article in CIO, 6 Executive Communication Tips for C-Suite Success by Sarah K. White, notes that sometimes strong employees are promoted to leadership positions without having mastered the requisite communication skills to best handle the job.

These bosses talk, but fail to communicate. Staff members may hear the words, but not the message. This lack of communication can lead to failed initiatives, lost productivity, and low morale.

That all sounds pretty bad.

What about you?

Are you in a leadership position?

Are you harnessing the full power of your team?

Improving your communication skills to empower your organization.

If you’ve never received formal training in public speaking, management communications, or active listening, you may be missing a key component for leadership success.

Fortunately, we can fix that.

While there are many ways to improve your communication skills, one fun and fast way to do so is to practice professional speaking.

How can studying professional speaking help? I may be a bit biased (Hi, I’m Kit, professional speaker and communication instructor), but many of the traits you learn to speak on stage are important off stage too.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Credible storytelling -- This article on internal communication strategies by Brandon Rigoni and Jim Asplund, writing for Gallup’s Business Journal, says that your credibility matters when sharing information. Storytelling plays an important role as well.

Hmm… authenticity and storytelling. Where have I heard those elements mentioned before

Active listening -- Listening to your audience is just as important as speaking to them. Harvard Business Review’s Rebecca Knight emphasizes the importance of being a good listener in How to Work with a Bad Listener.

You can’t engage someone’s attention if you have no idea what interests them. The way to learn about someone else is through active listening.

Focused communication -- In casual conversations it is okay to let the discussion go in any direction. But a professional speech needs to begin with a final destination, or point, in mind and each part of that speech should move the audience toward that destination. Likewise, leaders must communicate the end goal to their team.

This isn’t as easy as it seems. Professional speakers learn to move a story along and to use language that is clear and understandable.

Let’s connect and communicate.

Use these tips and, hopefully, you’ll never end up as the example of what not to do in someone’s LinkedIn post. If you’d like to see my daily tips and advice about professional communications and networking, follow me on LinkedIn!

Speaking Methods Of The Masters: How Famous People Engage And Inspire

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Have you ever met someone who spoke so well that you wanted to hear whatever they had to say just because they were saying it?  Great speakers can do that. Their voices, the rhythm of their words, their gestures and facial expressions, and even the settings in which they’re speaking all come together to make people want to listen.

Don’t get me wrong, saying something that is meaningful and beneficial to your audience is important. But it takes more than that to deliver a message that truly resonates. In past articles, I’ve written about several of these components that come together to create a masterful presentation.

Great speakers deliver their words with enthusiasm, empathy, honesty, power, lyricism, and warmth.

In this article, I’m inviting you to take a closer look with me at some great speakers --from the past and present-- as I identify the methods they have used to bring their speeches to life.

How Great Speakers Do What They Do

Seth Godin goes all in to give each audience his best.

In Treating your talk as a gift, the author, entrepreneur, and veteran TED talk presenter, Seth Godin, tells aspiring speakers to focus on serving their audience. He writes that “the best talks work when they open doors and turn on lights for the audience… it’s about them, not the speaker’s experience.” Godin conveys his passion for his subject and engages his audience by turning up the energy.

Winston Churchill led listeners to his conclusion.

Winston Churchill is said to have won over listeners by using a combination of complex parallelism and simple language. As the article, His Speeches: How Churchill Did It, explains, while the structure of his speeches were often formal, he carefully chose each word to convey the clearest of meanings. He spoke deliberately and with a power behind his words.

Maya Angelou made words form a melody.

The renowned poet and speaker, Maya Angelou was a master at crafting the written word. She used her skills to create visual images that stirred the hearts of her audience. In her article, Inspiration from Maya Angelou, Denise Graveline of The Eloquent Woman describes how Angelou’s use of “poetic rhythms, modulated tones and vocal emphasis” drew her audience in and inspired them.

Angelou’s words are honest and speak to the heart of her experience and the experiences of her listeners. She carried them with her on a spoken journey as if she were singing them a song.

Barack Obama keeps his voice under control.

Carmine Gallo, author of The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch on and Others Don’t, writes that like Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and other famous speakers, Barack Obama had the master touch. Gallo points out three of Obama’s most common devices for crafting memorable speech in Barack Obama: A Master Class in Public Speaking.

Gallo writes that, among other techniques, Obama uses voice modulation and pacing to maintain his audience’s attention. Sometimes it is not our words, but our silence that draws a listener to linger. Pausing for impact and allowing time for your words to be fully absorbed is a powerful rhetorical device that you can use too.

Catherine Storing invites her audience to join her.

I want to wrap up my summary of speakers and their methods by highlighting the work of my friend, Catherine Storing. Catherine is a wonderful storyteller who helps others bring their books to life as a writing coach. She recently gave a speech titled Gain the Confidence to Be the Real You at Inbound 17 that I promise you won’t regret watching.

Catherine engages her audience with warmth and openness, using her words, expressions, and gestures to invite her audience to share her enthusiasm for her topic.

A Little Speaking Student Homework

Now that you are aware of some of the ways great speakers manage to deliver their messages, take some time to review the work of some of your favorite speakers. See if you recognize them using common rhetorical devices. Do they respond to their audience’s reactions?

Watch several speeches by the same presenter. How does that person change his or her style and presentation to suit different audiences or contexts?

Then, decide how you’ll use what you’ve observed and learned to make your next speech your best one yet!

How Studying Professional Speaking Can Up Your Sales Game

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If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen me quote sales legends, such as Zig Ziglar, David Ogilvy, and Dale Carnegie. As a professional speaker, I’m inspired by the standards they set for communicating with their customers. These industry leaders knew that communication is at the core of successful selling.  

A great salesperson knows how to talk and listen in a way that makes people not only take notice but also take action.

In her article, 13 Communication Skills That are Crucial to Sales Success, HubSpot’s Leslie Ye explores this topic in detail, writing that “the root of sales success is the ability to gather and provide information in a way that makes a prospect want to do business with you.”

That sounds a lot like what a great public speaker does!

When I teach a seminar or give a keynote speech, my goal is to provide actionable information. To do that, I have to make sure I’m not just talking to the room but that my message is being received. Communication isn’t effective unless it makes that connection.

So how do professional speakers like me make that connection?

We craft carefully thought out and practiced communications. Through seminars, speakers forums, and practice, speakers develop the skills that allow them to connect with their  audiences.

That’s why studying professional speaking can make a good salesperson even better. A salesperson who knows the product and customer becomes a triple-threat once he or she also knows how to communicate like a pro.

Here are a some of the speaking talents that will up anyone’s sales game:

Confidence and authenticity -- Imagine how easy it will be to speak to a single customer or prospect once you’ve mastered sharing your story with a whole group of strangers. Improving your speaking skills can help you overcome the natural nervousness most people feel when asked to make a presentation before strangers. As you become a better speaker, you’ll also become a more authentic communicator.

Body language and situational awareness -- An important part of learning to speak in front of an audience is self-awareness. A speaker needs to be able to use motions and gestures to complement their speech, not distract from it. To be truly comfortable onstage, you have to be in control but not self-conscious. That skill takes a little practice.

Voice modulation and control -- When you speak, your voice becomes an instrument that communicates not just the spoken words but also emotion and emphasis. Like an instrument, you can adjust your rhythm and tone to enhance your presentation. Learning to recognize your off-notes is another one of the skills professional speaking develops.

Story crafting -- Talking is an ability, storytelling is an art. Professional speakers learn to encourage and inspire by telling a great story. Sales professionals who can tell a compelling story with their customer as the star have the map to success.

If you’d like to learn some of these pro speaker skills, I have a great offer for you. Every month, BostonSpeaks offers a free online master class. Yup, go pro for free. You can find all the details at See you there!